oliverwatson University of Rhode Island
The Watson House is the oldest structure on the University of Rhode Island campus.

Part of University of Rhode Island campus is designated as historic district

About 29 acres on the Kingston campus has been added to the National Register of Historic Places as the University of Rhode Island Historic District.

The heart of the main campus at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Providence Journal reports that about 29 acres on or around the Kingston quadrangle compose the University of Rhode Island Historic District. The Oliver Watson Farmhouse, built around 1796, is the oldest structure in the district.

In 1888, the state bought the land on which the farmhouse sits to establish the agricultural school that evolved into the university.

“These first-line public institutions often have great historic architecture worthy of preservation,” says Paul R. Lusignan, a historian with the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service. “I will say that while many schools have buildings that share a common architectural vocabulary, few have maintained those common forms, styles and materials over time to the degree found on the URI campus. The architecture of the buildings was quite striking.”

“We at URI have long cherished the buildings and landscape that comprises an important part of our unique identity and stature in higher education,” University president David M. Dooley says. “It is gratifying to see our contributions recognized, and for that recognition to come, fittingly, at the close of our year-long 125th Anniversary celebrations.”

Other buildings in the historic district include Taft Hall, 1889; Lippitt Hall, 1897; East Hall, 1909; Ranger Hall, 1914; Bliss, Edwards and Rodman halls, 1928; and the President’s House, 1931.

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